Hands On: Ryan Preece Scores First Whelen Mod Tour Spring Sizzler Win At Stafford

Ryan Preece celebrates victory in the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

STAFFORD – In a decade plus of racing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Ryan Preece has developed a reputation as a driver who carries himself with a nature most would consider to be a recipe of cocksure swagger combined with cheery fun when it comes to celebrations.

Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway though, a side of Preece never seen before after an event poured out as the exultation of victory set in.

The NAPA Spring Sizzler had the normally cheery-eyed and playful Preece breaking down in tears.

Preece, of Berlin, passed a previously dominant Doug Coby on lap 187 and then went on to victory in the Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway.

It was the first Spring Sizzler victory in ten starts in the event for the 26-year old Preece. His grandfather, legendary team owner Bob Judkins, won the event with driver Ed Flemke Sr. in 1973. Preece has been attending the event since he was child.

“It’s crazy,” Preece said, pausing to regain his composure as emotion took over. “This is about, like [winning the Whelen Modified Tour championship] back in [2013]. It’s crazy. A lot of hard work. This isn’t the normal Ryan Preece that’s usually up here. There’s just so many things I could say right now.”

Coby, of Milford, was second and Chase Dowling of Roxbury third.

For Preece the victory took on even more meaning for the fact that it was a truly hands on experience for him.

After the 2015 Whelen Modified Tour season Preece walked away from his full-time ride with team owner Eddie Partridge to take an opportunity running full-time with the NASCAR XFINITY Series, one step below the top-tier Monster Energy Cup Series.

He left the XFINTY Series ride at the end of the 2016 season looking for a way to get back to the Whelen Modified Tour full-time. The answer was to become the full-time mechanic on his own car for Partridge.

“Obviously everybody knows I left the XFINITY [Series] deal and to make that happen I needed a job,” Preece said. “During the offseason I talked to [Partridge] and I said to him ‘I’d really like to maintain the cars and keep them up and put them setups in them and that would be my job and that would make it easier for me to come home.’ And he believed in me.”

“I’ve been learning. … To be able to work on a racecar, put a setup in a racecar. Not me personally spending the money, but being able to go out and win races with my hard work, you know what, I don’t think anybody can really ever know. Winning this race, doing what I did, it means more to me than my first win in a Modified. It’s just so much hard work. I don’t think anybody really knows.”

Coby led a race-high 143 laps, but it was Preece that had the drive Coby was missing in the late stages.

Coby was second to Eric Goodale and Preece in fourth after the leaders pitted for the final time on lap 158. Coby went by Goodale for the lead on the ensuing lap 162 restart but Goodale grabbed the top spot back on lap 163. Coby then grabbed the lead back again on lap 167. Meanwhile, Preece was up to third by Justin Bonsignore by the time the caution flew again on lap 168.

On the next restart Preece got by Goodale for second. On lap 187 Preece was able to use a low move with a little contact in turn three to take the lead from Coby.

“As soon as I came out [of the pits] I said ‘This is going to be tough,” Preece said. “We got Justin [Bonsignore] and we got Eric [Goodale] and then I just had to kind of set up [Coby]. I had to help him move up a little bit. But that was the good old fashioned bump and run. I had a lot of fun doing that. Doug and I, we know we’re going to race each other hard and it’s going to be one of those seasons like it was in years past and I’m ready to have fun.”

Coby briefly took over the lead at the line on a lap 193 restat, Preece snared the top spot back almost immediately and then left Coby fighting for second over the closing laps.

It was the first time in three events that Coby, the three-time defending series champion, has finished and event.

“The right rear tire never came up on that second set so we were way shy on stagger,” Coby said. “The track had so much rubber on it, we were just never going to fight through that.

“Obviously a win would have been better, but the fact that we survived all those restarts at the end, that’s a plus. The series has proven in the first two races that late race restarts don’t really work too well with all of us.”


  1. darealgoodfella says

    Preece out-drove Coby at the end.

    Coby had a good car through most of the race. Clearly ran the deluxe flux capacitor.

    Preece out-drove Coby when it mattered.

    Anybody know what happened to the 51? It was in ~5th towards the end and stumbled.

    Pretty good event. Cars were mixing it up all over the place. Even on the long runs, Coby and Preece were only about a half lap ahead of the last car in the pack. The breakaway cars were not that far ahead of the pack. Slight misstep, and they were vulnerable. Pretty close racing.

  2. darealgoodfella says

    What happened to Blewett? He was on the entry list.

  3. Preece and Coby back on track for the title.Our most popular turtle also on the move for her annual award.

  4. Modifiedguy says

    @darealgoodfella, Preece didn’t out drive Coby, his car was a little bit better after the pitstop. Could be Preece put on a 500 right rear (softer) vs Coby & Dowling put on a 630 which is harder. Maybe the stagger was a little of for Coby.

  5. Crazy in NY says

    Not said in 1973:
    “As soon as I came out [of the pits] I said ‘This is going to be tough,” Flemke said. “We got Leo [Cleary] and we got Freddie [DeSarro] and then I just had to kind of set up [Bugs]. I had to help him move up a little bit. But that was the good old fashioned bump and run. I had a lot of fun doing that. Bugs and I, we know we’re going to race each other hard and it’s going to be one of those seasons like it was in years past and I’m ready to have fun.”

    I’d wager Ed Flemke would cry too if he could see what passes for racing on the Tour these last few years. sad…

  6. Great performance by preece made a race out of it, t c had a real good run in the oo. Would like to of seen # 7 lia make a run , but was forced out toward the end of the race……

  7. wmass01013 says

    THE 51 put the 20 in the wall hard late in the race, I am sure the contact hurt the 51 as well and u heard the 20 say on the track system he will remember the hit from the guy who just shows up to drive and not pay the bills on the car.

  8. Bonsweaaaaaaa was sent to the back for aggressive driving when he got into with Goodale

  9. darealgoodfella,
    The 51 was penalized for aggressive driving on the 20.

  10. LM,
    It was actually aggressive driving against the 20.

  11. Jeff Eilenberger says

    Well fought win Ryan
    “It’s just so much hard work. I don’t think anybody really knows.”
    Ryan, now you are finding out what it is to be a real driver, not just a helmet bag racer. Kudos to you for being willing to invest in the hard work, I really respect that a lot … Talk to the 20 team sometime though, they really know.
    Again, well done

  12. Correct my fault

  13. darealgoodfella says

    Preece out-drove Coby at the end, when it mattered.

    As far as the pitstop goes, Coby stalled the car, and a couple cars passed him as he tried to get it fired up.

    Prior to the pitstop, the 2 was out ahead, the 6 was chasing and several car lengths behind the 2. After the pit, the 2 was behind a couple cars and had to race, something the driver is not very good at. I’d be careful about throwing the #2 Crew Chief under the bus for making the wrong calls on tires and adjustments on that pit stop. That was a VERY late pitstop, leaving a short sprint to the finish. All cars were dealing with the rubber on the track.

    The aggressive driving on the 51 makes sense… he wasn’t making much news at all, just holding his own. I was wondering why he didn’t make moves during the race like others. But I guess he overdrove it. Oh well. Too bad he took out the 20.

    Glad to see the 3 was able to be there at the end. He got drove over by one of the orange cars that went slightly airborne.

    Anybody know what was up with the 16? Was never a factor.

  14. Kevin T. says

    51 should have been PARKED,unnessary to drive someone in like that,that is exactly how drivers get injured.MORON

  15. darealgoodfella says

    I second Jeff E. comments.

    If Preece is going to wrench his ride, and he has the aptitude to understand cause-and-effect, he should also gain a much better connection with the car as a driver, and what works and what doesn’t. We knew the 6 and Preece was going to potent, but if Preece can benefit from what he can learn from the set up and wrenching, he & the 6 will be even better. This could be fun to watch the rest of the season. Leaving the xfinity ride could turn out to be the best thing he did.

    I think Evans was a great driver because he was his own mechanic. He knew exactly what he was driving.

  16. Just as a side note, for those people asking where the 44 was, Bobby (one of the best all round drivers in the country) was winning in the USAC silver crown car in Phoenix. The USAC schedule is the priority for the part-time team. (He also grabbed the pole for the race)
    Congrats, BobbyIII.

  17. James Scott says

    Max in the 20 made an outstanding save after being hit. Could have been lots worse. Max will win soon!

  18. D. Trickle says

    How was the crowd and weather there on Sunday?

  19. Liz Cherokee says

    Not her best run, but another top 25 by Melissa… plus it’s May! Time for a Woodford Reserve Mint Jules… Bottoms up boys!

  20. darealgoodfella says

    Weather was ok. Had that short rain delay. Little cool.

    Crowd was good. I never saw so many campers at Stafford. Parking lot looked very crowded.

  21. I lost a lot of respect for the driver of the 51 max would NEVER do that to someone.First three races hes been upfront the kid is going to win.Sponsors should really take a good look at max the kid is the real deal.Good run for ryan

  22. jeffrey says

    Hey did you guys see that awesome power that the 52 car had
    The new driver John doe his sponsor was
    Manadnok speedway
    He went 290 around d thompson
    I got money and I’m burying a car today lionel me

  23. jeffrey says

    Top 25 wtf
    the car counts are 24
    Negative 1 then

  24. darealgoodfella says

    And the 51 caused a wreck at Thompson. That one took out Silk.

    Off to a great start.

  25. geoffrey doppelgänger says

    Mr. Hand said “What are you, people? On dope?”

  26. Mod Man says

    Let’s lay of the # 51 here boys . Justin is one of the cleanest drivers out there and sometimes stuff happens . That’s why it’s called racing …..plus he is a great guy. All the tour guys are the best and it’s why as fans we love the mods. So it’s early in the season why don’t we all relax….. LOL. Welcome back LIZ.

  27. humphry says

    Let’s face it Liz, the only way she will ever get a top 10 is if 3/4 of the field does not show or they all wreck. There are SK’s and SKL’s that are faster than her. Nice kid but she is definitely in the wrong division!

  28. Justin is the real deal,besides if your not mixing it up your not racing.He was penalized for the misdeed and still sits well in the standings.On to Langley.

  29. Jeffrey P says

    new crew chief on the 51 this year , need to work out the bugs, they were the best car the second half of last season not showing that kind of speed this year but its only 3 down ,maybe they can get it back ?

  30. Knuckles Mahoney says

    Max summed it up perfectly. An idiot, who doesn’t work on his own cars, or pay any of the bills. Sorry Art, but he will be nothing more than a racer who has won a few races.

  31. Chris D. says

    Too bad the Prince will have to miss Langley.

  32. darealgoodfella says

    Chris D., which Prince is that?

    There were no bugs with the 51 to be worked out, it was very good with the previous crew chief. Any fall back is due to the new crew chief. If the 51 has to get driven harder because there is less car to drive, that is the new crew chief.

  33. Knuckles,I disagree.Justin is right where he needs to be in the standings, even though the car isn’t quite where it needs to be.Wrenching on your own car I think is a good thing but many great drivers didn’t.So I think all the talk is just flapping gums.The same with the holier than thou talk of clean racing in the old days.Only difference I see is in the old days there was more fisticuffs after an incident.Justin is already a guy who has won a few races and he’s only just starting.Lets see how this very young season unfolds.

  34. Your something else Art, Justin is wonderful even though he punts 1 or 2 cars every race….. but dump on the 01 every chance you get. What did the Fifield family ever do to you? Justin is the Dillon Moltz of the WMT!

  35. Zeke,You are exaggerating a bit.I admire and respect Justin.He is talented driver IMO.I don’t dump on Mellisa every chance I get.But I admit I am very critical perhaps to much so.The Fifield family are very nice, but what’s the point of riding around the apron at slow speeds?Every race handling, brakes,steering, black flags,ect.Shawn says she’s very good at promoting her team and the tour.Thats good but driving a modified on the NWMT is another matter.Her competitors don’t seem to complain but many fans do.

  36. jeffrey says

    What about putting this person in the silk ride
    A guy that is good at racing video games
    I used to drive an sk and I can tell you it is Same as playing video game
    Jimmie johnson said he won daytona because od nascar game
    Anyways I got money and I putting money into local scene
    And yes your welcome everyone

  37. Chris D. says

    Have you stopped doing your homework dareal? Guess you’ll have to wait for the entry list to come out. Clue…it’s not Silk

  38. Andrew B. says

    Pretty obvious answer to that- it doesn’t take a lot to figure out who Chris D. has a keyboard-jockey vendetta against.

  39. darealgoodfella says

    There are plenty of Princes-in-their-own-minds.

    Which one, Chris D.?

  40. Chris D. says

    And I thought you were “in the know” about all things modifieds.

  41. dick hurtz says

    DA Real check your mailbox you should have gotten an invitation by now Ryan is getting married next Saturday

  42. darealgoodfella says

    There are plenty of Princes. Too many think they are royalty. I know who thinks they are self-proclaimed Princes. They will be at Langley. Heck, one of them is insulted if considered a Prince, he thinks he is the irreproachable King. He’ll be at Langley.

    Chris D, which Prince are talking about?

  43. Chris D. says

    The one who won’t be there. Alot of championship points to give up.

  44. Chris D. says

    Nah, don’t help him Dick, let him figure it out on his own, he’s really smart…like Fredo

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